The New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils are a day away from facing off to start their Stanley Cup Playoff series. There is plenty of animosity between the players and fans as the two rivals meet for the seventh time in the postseason.
In hockey, matchups matter. How a team lines up going into a playoff series, isn’t always how they will look throughout it with adjustments being made.
That being said, the Rangers’ incoming lines for the playoffs seem pretty well established. Let’s take a look at how they will be once the puck drops on Tuesday night.
Rangers Forward Lines
1st Line: Chris Kreider – Mika Zibanejad – Patrick Kane
Where Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko land on the lines was the biggest question going into the first-round playoff series. During practice Monday, it seemed that Kane got the most work with Zibanejad and Kreider. Zibanejad is coming off a career regular season and is playing the best hockey fans have seen. Kreider, even though he didn’t match his 50-goal season last year, still managed to put up 36 goals. Kane’s playmaking experience in the postseason should fit well with the scoring capabilities that the top line currently possesses.
2nd Line: Artemi Panarin – Vincent Trocheck – Vladimir Tarasenko
With Kane worth with the top line, that means the shooting-happy Tarasenko should pair nicely with Artemi Panarin on the second line. Trocheck is coming off one of the best seasons statistically of his career and pairs nicely with the Russian line-mates. This line will need to come up big though should they be paired against Jack Hughes and the high-flying Devils.
3rd Line: Alexis Lafreniere – Filip Chytil – Kaapo Kakko
The Kids are together for another playoff run and they’ll be the X-Factor for New York should they move on past New Jersey. The trio of Lafreniere, Chytil, and Kakko accounted for over 20 points during last year’s playoff run and should be expected to be even better this time around if the Rangers are to move on.
4th Line: Jimmy Vesey – Barclay Goodrow – Tyler Motte
As fourth-lines go, this is arguably the best overall trio the Rangers have had in years. Motte, Goodrow, and Vesey all have the ability to score and offer the physicality needed to produce at a high level on the defensive end. New York needs any advantage it can find in this series and the physicality their fourth line brings could turn the tide as early as Tuesday.
Rangers Defensive Pairings
Ryan Lindgren – Adam Fox
K’Andre Miller – Jacob Trouba
Niko Mikkola – Braden Schneider
No major changes on the defensive end – the only one of note is that Niko Mikkola has done a very good job of solidifying the final defensive pairing with Braden Schneider. The trade that included Mikkola has worked out in droves for general manager Chris Drury and the Rangers. The combination of Lindgren-Fox and Miller-Trouba will need to step up in a big way against New Jersey’s speed though.
As goes Igor Shestekrin, so to do the New York Rangers. Jaroslav Halak is a good backup goaltender but any time he is in over the former Vezina-winner is a win for the Devils.
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